Showing posts from 2017

Finding creative conviction

I’ve been thinking about what got me into graphic design and illustration in the first place. Although I’ve always liked to draw and write, the friends that I had and their interests are what cemented my future endeavors.

It started with FASA’s Dr. Who RPG back in mid-1980s Jr. High. It was actually my first taste of role-playing, and we eventually worked up into AD&D 2nd edition. It inspired me- I couldn’t afford all these games. What if I made my own? My friends tried talking me out of it, but I wasn’t deterred. I started designing my first table top- a horrible space fleet tactical game that relied on rulers and hundreds of dice that kept hit point scores. I drew space ships on pieces of cardboard, and despite the lousy game play, I had fun spending hours designing it. It was my first real experience with creative flow.
By the time I hit 10th grade, I met my best friend, Bobby Hancock. He also had a space fleet game- arguably better than mine. We were also trying out rolepla…

Just show up.

A few of the things I get asked often is "how did you get so good?" or "Can you teach me to draw like you?". My answer is usually the same- you just need to practice. Everyday. For years. There are no shortcuts in this.

I came across this video- and he had another great bit of advice...

I don't draw everyday, but now I will. I just need to show up.

Popular Comics #1

The folks at inDELLible have published the first anthology TPB, calling it Popular Comics, Issue #1. I have a 5 page story inside written by Bill Cain called Captain Tornado. I only pencilled and inked the story, colors were by Jared Prophet and it was lettered by industry veteran Daerick Gross, Sr. Cover is by the legendary Steven Butler! It's available on Amazon.

Daerick also acted as the art director of the project. He has been great in giving advice and critique and I feel like my artwork has been evolving under his guidance.

I originally had a second story, but life intervened... however something will come of it! Stay tuned!

Bought a brush pen... leaving comfort zone.

I hadn't posted for a while, so this update is more of an attempt to say "yep, I'm alive and busy behind the scenes!"

Here's a head study I executed with a brush pen... mostly to see what kind of tight control I could have with details. The image is about three inches tall, to give you some frame of reference. I've been drawing for years and have played with brushes off and on. This is the first one that turned out halfway decent enough to show off.  

I bought a small round Pigma brush pen from Hobby Lobby (not endorsing the store, but it's nice alternative to Michael's.
I've played around with a sable and Higgins ink before- but really only about 3-4 total work hours messing with a brush in all my time doing it. I'm not a fan of clean up so I've never really hassled with it. This one was after about a half hour of inking different heads.

I need to start posting current images!

A funny thing happened while at the comic book store...

There is a comic book shop about two miles from my work which I'll occasionally go do during lunch. I'd go more often but I'd become broke very quickly.

Because I don't go often, I'm not really keen on what's "hot" or up on any current story lines. I'm an artist, and buy only books based on if I like their art.

So I found a few, but one in particular- The Rocketeer Adventures 2 had a story in it where I loved the art. When I got it home I discovered it was by artist Colin Wilson, who've I'd admired for years and years! Of course I liked it! He's done everything from Blueberry, to Judge Dredd, to Rogue Trooper, to Star Wars Invasion (Incidentally, the last time I went I found Invasion and picked it up because I liked the art- and again discovered it was Colin).

One of the best things an artist should learn is to discover not only what catches their eye, but why. I like Colin's use of detail, the realism in his backgrounds, props an…


Still getting back into it. I've been drawing when I can, way out of practice. I started going through all my old sketchbooks (I leave notes to myself when I've drawn something that I like since it's so hard to bottle lightning), and old illustrations. I came across this VERY out of character illustration I did as freelance for a women's health food product packaging:

It's fun to look back, but now I need to look forward!

A very talented filmmaker and good friend of mine, James Cawley, is going to do a fan film of "The Gunslinger"- from Stephen King's Dark Tower books. James called me out wanting some promotional and conceptual illustrations which I am extremely happy to oblige.

It's been a VERY long time since I've read the books, like 20 years... so I'll have quite a bit of research and rediscovery to do. To be honest, I needed a project to kickstart my brain- I tend to do better and MORE on other's projects- it's easier to answe…

How Cool Is That?

Albert Huerta, who plays Joseph Crowfoot’s brother Frank in “Corner of the Mind’s Eye” co-starred in Ari Gold’s “Adventures of Power”, which premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Albert is really excited about this. Albert has also committed himself to a few of my summer projects.   Below is a link to a picture with Albert, Ari and the rest of the cast at Sundance.


Doug Guibord, who plays Agent Smith in “Corner of the Mind’s Eye” made a short film called Lemonade, which will be premiering at the 5th Annual Foursite Film Festival. Below is an email he sent:

Hi everyone,

The 5th Annual Foursite Film Festival is going on this week in Ogden, Utah. Films from all over the world, country, and state will be showcased in four of Ogden's greatest venues. They include the Peery's Egyptian Theater, Megaplex 13, Weber State's Wildcat Theater, and the Children's Treehouse Museum.

For those of you who worked on LEMONADE, here is where it…

Quality is never out of style

Another "republished" page. Admittedly, I went through kicks between being wanting to be a sequential artist or being a filmmaker, and because of that conflict, I would un-publish posts about what ever I wasn't into, trying to tailor my blog into what I wanted to reflect. In the end, sequential artist always seemed to win. Here's an older post that I had done talking about older newspaper strips. I was reading an article where Ham Fisher had so many assistants that he hardly drew much of his strip- which would account for the lack of consistency in his character designs.

These older strips were found through public domain, and had given me a real focus on how I want to approach my webcomic. -jfm

I've been trying to find other influences outside my traditional comfort zone. So, as you know I've discovered the Cisco Kid, but lately I've found some others whose artwork I really like:

Ham Fisher did a strip called "Joe Palooka" for 25 years. While th…

I bit the bullet.

Originally posted a few years ago- but blogger seems to make these jump back to the top after you've unpublished and republished again.

I'll be the first to say I never finished my end of the bargain on these correspondence courses. This one came right before my dad passed away, and while I've gone over and used the materials the boxed set came with, I never had the nerve to do the work and send it in for critique. 

If I do another course, it will be for story graphics or inking. I'm not severely interested in being a comic book artist as much as the now extinct Adventure Comic Strip artist (like Milton Caniff)- which was my first exposure to it all and what I really wanted to do. I may resurrect the webcomic attempt yet.

With that, here's the original article below, from sometime in late 2012:

After many, many years of regretting not going to the Joe Kubert School, and pining over the Correspondence Courses, I bit the bullet and ordered the "Heroes and Superher…

On writing, drawing, and filming.

Gearing up, literally.
Right now, I have three short form films in development: two narratives and a minidoc.
The two short films will only be about 2-3 minutes long. The first one is called TOE TAG, a thriller with a twist starring Joey Sanchez and Geoff Richards. We’ve done location scouting and the script is in place. I’m in the process of looking into permits. Since there are some action shots, I've ordered the Fotodiox Freeflight 3-axis gimbal stabilizer. I'm excited to get that.
The second film’s working title is The Letter. It’s a road trip drama featuring Joey Sanchez and Jenny Aguilar. This one is in development. The gimbal stabilizer will also be useful here since there’s a number of traveling shots.
My mini-documentary will be about my neighbor, Craig Collings, who is the hard-working owner of Collings Awning. I’m looking forward to this because I find what he does fascinating, and the fact he and his wife Kathy have been able to sustain their own business for near…

Leaving The Nest

Test Shots and Location Scouting
A few days ago, I went to old Midvale with my friend Joey Sanchez to do some location scouting and video tests my next film TOE TAG. The Vincent’s Pharmacy, featured in these shots, was in The Sandlot.

Joey Sanchez sneaking around back alleys in old Midvale.
Yesterday, my friend Geoff Richards and I used our lunch to get some more test shots in and around the business complex we work at. This test was primarily more for me to get used to the Chung Dha-style monopod rig (which I’ll get to further down).

Geoff Richards lurking around in underground tunnels and parking garages in Salt Lake City.
These shots aren’t bad considering I shot them on an iPhone 6. I’ll likely be using this old phone for TOE TAG and possibly the 48 Hour Film Project unless I can manage an upgrade to the 7 before then… though unlikely.
Chung Dha-style Monopod Rig I don’t have much money to spend on equipment, so I often try to figure out the best way to get the most out of what I ha…

Use what you've got. Just make films.

I use multiple higher end cameras like the Canon 7d, 7dmkii, 5dmkiii, C100, etc, but they all belong to my day job. I hadn’t bought anything for myself in about 10 years.

I want to start up a series of shorts again, and since I’m unable to use my work’s equipment, and I was taken by this particular video:

The $400 Camera Rig

I still think the rig is genius, but finding reliable Canon EOS M cameras is becoming harder and harder. I had ordered one, and found that it didn’t record any images, which pretty much made the camera useless. I immediately returned it.

I was fed up. I decided I didn’t want to mess around with consumer cameras until I could afford what I really want- which will be some time off.

Sitting frustrated, I remembered I was talking to a photographer friend of mine who said she was embarrassed that she now takes photos on her iPhone. I told her “Who cares about the gear?” and referred her to this fantastic video by Ted Forbes:

Art of Photography: Why Gear Doesn’t Matter

Project: Waking Dragon

Filmic Pro low-light tests from Juan Maestas on Vimeo.

I wanted to give this renewed effort a memorable name, so I came up with Project: Waking Dragon. Yes, I know it's cheesy, but I wanted to put some sort of energy, some sort of familiar to it. I've always thought of my familiar as a dragon; I feel my imagination is as powerful as one. And I feel that it has been asleep for a long time, and now it's waking up.

With that, I added this first video sketch- one of many- with clips I already had to get the ball rolling. There's nothing spectacular about the editing or the choice of shots. I had to throw something against the blank canvas to get started.

I have more video sketch ideas coming which I'll get more interesting shots and more creative editing. I also have about 6 mini-docs that I'd like to do profiling interesting people I know. All these projects are designed to get more familiar with equipment, getting out and producing stuff, and basically getting th…

Rebel Without a RED

I had worked on a film that used RED cameras- and I can honestly say the equipment is only as good as its operators. Using a RED has always been the holy grail of many indie filmmakers that choose not to dive into film. Those that do often go the Super 16mm route- like Robert Rodriguez. In his book "Rebel Without A Crew", RRod claims he shot El Mariachi for only $7,000, and most of that was for the film stock. He begged, borrowed, and stole everything else to get the film made.

Before DSLRs, using a depth-of-field adapter was the only way to get a filmic look on to digital video. I attempted a DIY version on my little HV20… with mixed results.
Speaking of HV20s- amazing short films have been shot on them- take Ayz Wariach’s WHITE RED PANIC for example- it’s not about the equipment, it’s how you LEVERAGE IT:

WHITE RED PANIC  by Ayz Wariach, 2008
Still, shooting a feature on an HV20 is still going to be massively time and resource intensive. Not to mention it’s getting hard…

"Keeping it Fresh..."

I got that line off of "Grounded for Life". I miss that show.

Although "Corner of the Mind's Eye" is in a state of hibernation, Lost Skies has been busy. As we speak, two feature length films are being assisted... and commercial work has been constant. The two films are "Archangel Alpha", directed by the talented filmmaker Aaron Martin, and "Two Sides of the Moon", produced by Helen Ferguson-Frichen. I think both will be extremely entertaining.
On the commercial front, package illustration has been done for Glowtrition International, for beauty product lines. To the left is a close up of of said illustrations. Digitally painted in Painter IX and Photoshop.
I've recently started a gallery at, website to the best magazine I've ever read. I cannot say enough good things about it, it truly is that marvelous.
Although COTME is in hibernation, it's not dead in the water. It is currently in competition in the 2007 Slamd…

Meet Nadine Crowfoot

Allison McGowan loves to perform in any capacity and is excited about venturing into acting. She currently "performs" as a television technical director and was cast as the female lead in J. Maestas’ short film Love's Confession.

In Corner of the Mind’s Eye, Allison is Nadine Crowfoot- the deceased wife of Joseph Crowfoot. Joseph is consumed with the loss of his soul mate, and his obsession has blinded him to sinister designs that he should have otherwise foreseen.

Allison is married to Todd McGowan, and together are raising one cat.

Meet Frank Crowfoot

Although Albert Huerta decided to pursue acting in his thirties, he had in fact been born an actor. Albert had always dreamed of acting, and was told by many that he should get into it. Watching others perform and boasting he could do that, his lovely wife made him put his money where his mouth was and signed him up for a local church play- and at that point Albert was hooked.

Auditions were rough and discouraging at first. After one particularly rocky one, he considered hanging up the gloves. He called his older brother, Buddy, to let him know he was through- and being the wiser older brother, Buddy refused to let him give up. “My brother, he’s my biggest fan.” Albert chides when asked.

All of Albert’s mentors are right. He has an incredible gift. “Now I am an official SAG Status Actor… I am so grateful I didn’t quit.” Albert continued, “All I can say about this experience is follow your dreams and never, I mean NEVER give up! Your ship will come in one day and you need to be ready f…

80s-type Space Fantasy

Been messing around with a couple of old ball point pen sketches. The idea for these group of characters was meant to be a take on a 80s indy comic's blatant rip-off of Star Wars. Pretty specific? Actually, not really- I'd go as far as saying that many comic books back then were very derivative of Star Wars or Star Trek.

I couldn't help but to put a mullet on the space pirate.

Salt of the Earth


It's been a while since I've updated, but for good reason- Lost Skies Productions has been very busy gearing up for a feature film that we are planning on shooting next year.

With that, we've started on a series of short films that lead up to the feature: the first one called "Salt of the Earth" starring Yolanda Arrey.

Yolanda is an incredibly talented actress who I had the pleasure of meeting and casting in Corner of the Mind's Eye a few years ago, and who also was cast in the 48 Hour Entry "Maybe...". I've always had told her I'd write a role just for her because she is so freakin' incredible.

Here are some stills from our past couple of shoots:

The Indomitable Yolanda Arrey

Linda Eyring & Chris Harvey

Chris Harvey who just got bad news...

...over the death of a loved one.

But are there others involved? Dani Jae and Tracy York seem to know.

And so does Trevor Hawkes- but he ain't talkin'.

Nor his partner- Russ Adams…

SOTE Post & Oisin

I seem to have a tendency to post close to the last day of the month. I will try to be a bit more frequent. "Salt of the Earth" is in post production. It's been edited... Sound Design needs to be done as well as some VFX. We're also in need of some pickup shots. I was hoping to get it done by the end of October... it still might happen.

I've been helping Russ Adams from Ritual Pictures with his new short film "Oisin", which is based on his feature "Malice". He had asked me to DP and edit it. It's been really great fun- we've been shooting it in downtown Ogden. We're half way done but I should have some stills to show in the coming days.

More to post soon...

Oisin Stills

Russ and I have been discussing the final look of the film, which he wanted to have a real cold, dark, stark grittyness to it. Part of the issue was our location was flooded with light and no electricity- which presented the challenge of shaping the light with flags and drapes. We cut down quite a bit of light, but the ambient was very wild.

Unfortunately, a generator wasn't an option- it would have killed our sound, and we didn't have time to make wild takes since the location was triple booked, much to our chagrin.

However, we did it. I'm happy with the results- though we agreed some of our last takes will have to be re-done because we were rushing in the end not to impede on the party with the third booking. Ah! The joys of micro-budget filmmaking!

This weekend, we're finishing up with the happier times of Oisin, and some gritty and horrific injustices that he must face.

The Post-Production Run

I'm in the process of editing 2 shorts right now- My short "Salt of the Earth" & Russ Adams' "Oisin". Not really a big deal, SOTE is pretty much done- it just needs a few VFX, a couple of Pick-up shots and sound design... and to be scored. I was hoping to finish it up this month but I'm going to have to push it off until November.

Oisin is forming rather nicely. Where we shot SOTE on location as the near future, Oisin was shot on a soundstage period set, built by the filmmaker himself. It was actually rather ingenious: Russ had built four panels of "brick walls" to create the period feel of an interior of a castle- everything from the local lord's chamber to the dungeons the prisoners were kept in. We did use one old metal door within the complex and moved the walls to simulate that it was the cell doors, and the illusion came was impressive. Later, he had flipped the walls around to create the tavern walls for the happier times of the…

What lights my fire

Lost Skies Demo Reel from Juan Maestas on Vimeo.

As I look over all the endeavors of my creative life, I have often stopped to wonder what it is I am truly meant to do. I don't deny that I am gifted in drawing- but I haven't pursued it because while I do enjoy it to relax, it's only on occasion... and I never get into a state of "flow" when I do it. I'm not passionate about it.

Filmmaking, on the other hand, is something that I do enjoy. I love all aspects of it- from conjuring up a script to directing actors to finishing off the edit. I love it all. It is the art of the times.

I am truly lucky to have a day job where I am able to both draw and do video production. However, if I had to choose, I would definitely pick video... it simply interests me more.

With that, I am rebooting Lost Skies Productions for it's original function, as a virtual base for my filmmaking endeavors. I have a couple of small scripts I'm looking over and I'm planning on pe…

The Ever Evolving Line!

Yeesh! I need to post to this more often!!
I’ve found an artist whose work I absolutely love; it’s really influencing the way my drawing has evolved. The line is looser, and with cinematic colors, I feel like the new direction I’m going in is the one that best suits my art personality.
Things have been going rather well. Lots of things in the works- inDELLible is going great- I’m half way through my second story. I have a few comic gigs lined up in the future months. I am finally getting around the big webcomic project- scripts are written and I’ve been working on concept art. I’ll definitely be using the new style I’m developing, and it will be in full color.
More soon!